Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern boundaries respectively. The area was inhabited by many indigenous tribes before the arrival of traders, explorers and settlers who formed an autonomous government in Oregon Country in 1843; the Oregon Territory was created in 1848, and Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14, 1859. Salem is the state's capital and third-most-populous city; Portland is the most populous. Portland is the 30th-largest U.S. city, with a population of 582,130 (2009 estimate) and a metro population of 2,241,841 (2009 estimate), the 23rd-largest U.S. metro area.
The valley of the Willamette River in western Oregon is the most densely populated and agriculturally productive region of the state, and is home to eight of the ten most populous cities. Oregon's 2000 population was about 3.5 million, a 20.3% increase over 1990; it is estimated to have reached 3.8 million by 2008. Oregon's largest for-profit private employer is Intel, located in the Silicon Forest area on Portland's west side.
Oregon enjoys a diverse landscape including the windswept Pacific coastline, the volcanoes of the rugged and glaciated Cascade Mountain Range, dense evergreen forests, and high desert across much of the eastern portion of the state. The tall Douglas firs and redwoods along the rainy Western Oregon coast contrast with the lower density and fire prone pine tree and juniper forests covering portions of the eastern half of the state. Stretching east from Central Oregon, the state also includes semi-arid scrublands, prairies, deserts, and meadows. Mount Hood is the highest point in the state at 11,249 feet (3,429 m). Crater Lake National Park is the only national park in Oregon.
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